This time of year is a very difficult time to grow anything in the garden in Central Queensland. It's just so hot and it's all about getting something in the ground as soon after winter as possible so that plants are well established before the heat really kicks in. I haven't done too bad this year, as we had had a pretty pleasant spring, although just before Christmas it got very hot and dry. We've just had some lovely rain, so that will really help things along, that were starting to struggle.
Lettuce is very difficult to grow as it just bolts to seed, my kale went for a fair while, but eventually succumbed to the heat, so to ensure that I do have some green stuff for salads and stir fries, I grow a variety of tropically adapted spinach plants. I decided that it's not much point fighting nature. We live in the tropics so I need to find more plants that like it here, instead of trying to grow things that just want to die.
This is Ceylon Spinach - it's a climber, so make sure you have something for it to climb on. It readily self seeds, so once you have it, you will always have it. The leaves can be used in cooking, but I prefer the smaller leaves for salads. The small leaves are very similar to baby spinach.
Brazilian Spinach is a perennial and while it does spread a bit, it doesn't seem to take up much room. Well it doesn't in my garden anyway. I need to keep it covered, because the chooks love it and the bugs seem to prefer it too. It's a little crispier than Ceylon so I prefer it in salads.
I planted this one for the first time last year, Egyptian Spinach. It grows into quite a tall shrub and readily self seeds. I use it in salads or cooking, once again using the smaller leaves for salads and the bigger for cooking.
This does grow wild in some of our paddocks, along the creek. It goes by the name of New Zealand Spinach, but I like to call it Warrigal Greens. I've had it in the garden for years as it self seeds easily as well. I do use it in salads but sparingly, as I'm not a huge fan of it raw. I should be cooked because of the oxalic acid.
This is a pretty poor example of perennial spinach. I don't have a lot of success growing it, but keep buying seedlings when I can. It should grow a bit more like silverbeet I think. Maybe it's just too hot in our climate.
This one is not really a spinach, but it is a perennial. Kang Kong is an Asian green, which loves to be kept very wet. I grow it in a styrofoam box with holes in, which sits inside another styrofoam box without holes (I forgot to take a picture and I'm not currently at home!) The stalks are hollow and you just cut the plant off and cook the whole lot. Great stir-fried.
A salad using a mix of spinach and herbs.
I do try and grow some silverbeet each year, but have never had much success with spinach or baby spinach. Do you know of any other strange spinachy type plants? Or any suggestions as to other tropical and preferably perennial plants that I could grow?